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Terre Haute Landmarks Inc. recognizes ISU

Thursday, August 7, 2003

TERRE HAUTE -- Indiana State University was recognized Wednesday for its efforts to preserve and enhance a nearly 100-year-old community landmark.

Terre Haute Landmarks, Inc. presented the university with one of two annual awards for historic preservation.

The university received the award for a project to enhance the lighting of a stained glass dome in Fairbanks Hall. The project also included construction of a new walkway to make it easier to maintain the dome that features portraits of 16 historical figures.

"Fairbanks Hall is most commonly known to the people of Terre Haute as the old Fairbanks Library," Andrew Connor, president of Terre Haute Landmarks, said. "So it's not just a treasure for Indiana State but it's a building of historic memories for people throughout the community."

During a ceremony in the rotunda beneath the 28-foot dome, Connor presented Indiana State a certificate "in honor and recognition of your success in promoting and implementing the preservation and restoration of the historic architectural environment of Terre Haute."

Indiana State President Lloyd W. Benjamin, who holds a PhD in art history, accepted the award on behalf of the university.

"I have always had a very strong interest in architecture, architectural history and art history," Benjamin said. "When you see things like these, you realize what a treasure they are, that they deserve our attention and we need to invest some time and a little effort to do what we can to preserve them and pass them on."

Businessman and philanthropist Crawford Fairbanks funded the building's construction. Ground was broken in 1904 and the building opened in August 1906 as the Emaline Fairbanks Memorial Library, named for its benefactor's mother. The building was turned over to Indiana State in 1979 after the Vigo County Public Library opened its current main branch at Seventh and Poplar streets.

Fairbanks Hall currently houses university art studios and a student art gallery. It is the second oldest building on the Indiana State campus. Only Condit House, office of the university president, is older.

Nearby Normal Hall, the university's original library, contains a similar stained glass dome that will soon undergo a similar restoration, said Kevin Runion, Indiana State's associate vice president for facilities management.

The university also has plans to renovate University Hall for use by the School of Education, Benjamin noted.

Terre Haute Landmarks' other award went to Hulman & Co. for its recently-opened Clabber Girl Museum and General Store.

"We've lost a lot of our historic buildings, but efforts of Indiana State University and Hulman & Co. are good examples for other private owners in the community," Conner said. "These were voluntary efforts to preserve these buildings and restore them to their glory. Both of these efforts merit this recognition of excellence in craftsmanship and sensitivity to our community's heritage."

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